A couple weeks ago, I saw a #lovethepie hashtag float by in my stream, and thought “what a great idea! I love pie!” So, even though this poor Canuck can’t possibly win any of the fantastic prizes from TidyMom’s Love The Pie party, I wanted to get in on it anyway, just for the love of pie. My husband had a simple request: if I wanted to make a pie, it had to be apple. I thought about going fancy, about all kinds of ways to freshen it up, but ultimately I came back to a very simple, traditional, classic apple pie.
The classic apple pie holds a very special place in my heart. My grandmother used to have two apple trees in her back yard, and every year we’d start picking near the end of the summer and make dozens of apple pies. It was also at her house that I was allowed to have pie for breakfast, and I often did. I learned the fine art of pastry in her kitchen, about the importance of ice-cold fats and water, and handling the pastry as little as possible. It took me many years to work out the kinks but I finally have, and now I make pastry with confidence, and it rarely fails.
My pie plate is a special one, too. My husband bought it for me as a souvenir from a trip to Whitefish, Montana. We stumbled across an artisan potter in our walking tour of the town, and this pie plate spawned an obsession with pottery and other unique and handmade dishes. It has a special place in my cupboards, and I use it whenever I can. I love a good deep-dish pie, and this pie plate is the perfect one for a nice thick pie.
A little about this recipe – if you like sweet pie, you may want to increase the amount of sugar in it, or use an apple that’s sweeter than Granny Smiths. I happen to have a quarter of a bushel of Grannys in my basement, so I used those. If I’m buying apples to make pie, I like to do a 50/50 mix of Grannys and Galas or Golden Delicious. The recipe as written is quite tart and the pastry is unsweetened, but I find that’s the perfect complement to a scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. I also make my pastry with all butter, but you can just as easily substitute some of the butter for lard or shortening, whatever you choose. Whatever you add, though, make sure that it’s straight from the fridge, since cold fat is of the utmost importance for a flaky crust. This recipe is also perfect for a 9-10″ deep-dish pie, so if you have a smaller pie plate, scale the recipe accordingly.
Classic Apple Pie
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (6 oz) cold butter, cubed
1 tsp vinegar
6-8 Tbsp ice water
8-9 large apples
Lemon juice & water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup instant tapioca
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp water
cinnamon & sugar
In a food processor, combine flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until the butter is incorporated and resembles coarse meal. With the food processor running, add vinegar and ice water a tablespoon at a time, until the dough just starts to come together and form a ball. Remove pastry from the food processor and split into two balls – a slightly larger one for the bottom crust, and a slightly smaller one for the top crust. Cover in plastic wrap, flatten into discs and refrigerate for an hour or two.
While the pastry is in the fridge, prepare the filling. Peel, core, and slice apples, tossing the prepared slices into a large bowl with a few tablespoons of water and a splash of lemon juice to keep them from browning. When complete, drain the excess liquid from the apples and add sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and tapioca. Toss to combine.
Roll out the larger ball of pastry into a circle big enough to fit into your pie plate and leave an inch of overhang. Ease the pastry into the pie plate, lifting the edges and gently pushing it into place around the edges. Pur in your prepared apples, dot with butter and set aside.
Roll out the smaller ball of pastry into a circle big enough to cover the top of the pie, and also leave an inch of overhang. Place the top crust gently over the filling, adjusting it carefully to cover everything. Put a little milk in a small cup or bowl, and dip a finger in it. Go around the pie, lifting the top crust a bit and using the milk-dipped finger to moisten the lower crust. Push the top crust into the moistened bottom crust to seal the pastry together. With a pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, trim the excess pastry from around the edge of the pie, leaving about 3/4″ of overhang. Go around the edge of the pie again, folding the edge of the pastry under to form a nice thick crust, and flute as desired.
In a small bowl, beat together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Use a pastry brush to paint the egg wash lightly over the entire top crust of the pie. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and cut vents to allow steam to escape. Bake your pie at 375F for 45-60m, until golden brown on top, and apples are soft when poked with a toothpick. If the pie begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil to prevent burning.
What’s your favourite kind of pie?